ST. LOUIS -- It's one thing to tinker with the lineup from game to game. It's another to reinvent it on a nightly basis.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa trotted out his third different lineup in as many games on Wednesday, and the changes haven't been small. At six of the nine positions in the batting order, the Cardinals have used three different players in three games. That doesn't even count the No. 9 spot, where two different pitchers and Brendan Ryan have hit.
Wednesday brought a new leadoff hitter, rookie Colby Rasmus. Khalil Greene, who had hit in RBI positions each of the first two games, batted second against lefty Zach Duke on Wednesday. And for the first time in 2009, the pitcher returned to the eighth spot, with Ryan batting ninth.
"I think it makes sense today, because I like Khalil with men on base, and it gives us that position player [in front of him]," La Russa said. "The reason you do it is to get men on base ahead of the middle of the lineup. So it's one of the edges. You have Brendan playing, and he can hit ninth."
Greene was a bit of a curious choice to hit second, given his combination of moderate power and low on-base percentage. La Russa acknowledged that Greene isn't necessarily the prototypical second hitter, but was curious to see his shortstop serving as a table-setter.
"It's just more a chance to see particularly him in different spots in the lineup," La Russa said. "I don't think he'll be there tomorrow, but maybe he will be. I'm going to explain that to him. It fits this lineup well, but I [also] don't want to get later in the year when the games are winding down and you want to try it but you don't have any information."
In the outfield, Wednesday brought Chris Duncan's first night out of the lineup after starting the first two games.
"With the day game tomorrow, I didn't want to push Chris too much," La Russa said, alluding to Duncan's recovery from last year's back surgery. "So he's the guy that sits, and Colby plays. I think leadoff is a good spot for [Rasmus], when you look at the other guys."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.